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Archive for the ‘Internet Consultant’ Category

How do your clients follow you online? If you are like the thousands of businesses who cannot know what sort of device your clients might use to connect with you at any given time, you need to cover all the bases. Smart phone, tablet, PC, laptop, mini tablet – no matter which way your clients or potential customers do their search, your website has to present a user-friendly, easy-to-navigate portal for that search.

Responsive Design is the answer. Find out what it means to drive [traffic] responsively.

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The first rule of Fight Club is Don’t Talk About Fight Club. The first rule of Internet Marketing is Talk About Everything. And the first rule of Internet Marketing Consultation is Find Out About Everything.

The Fight Club came to mind after one of my latest rounds of discussions with a few of my clients. In our monthly reviews there are still those who focus solely on that paramount question “How many hits are we getting?”. For someone in the Fight Club, this is a critical question since it is basically the ONLY reason for the Fight Club to exist. It is not the only reason for a business to exist, nor for a business to enter into Internet Marketing.

What separates the Fight Club from professional boxing? Analysis. The cornermen, trainers, and fighters themselves realize that the number of hits they give or take is a measure of a fight, but it is never the only thing happening in the ring that determines the fight outcome. Sure, if you land 50 punches for every 2 received from your opponent, you probably will win a fight – but what if the second of those 2 punches from your opposition punches out your lights?

It is pretty much the same for the fight conducted over the web for business. You do need to land punches (hits) for it to be considered a fight, but the type and power of these punches are what matter most. In a boxing match it might be a roundhouse; in Internet Marketing it might be a specific high-value keyword and landing page, or a bounce rate reduction, or simply returning qualified traffic. There is no single answer on how to win the match. Knowing when you’ve landed a debilitating punch to your competition or provided a face-saving block when they attack is invaluable information. It provides you the details of your current strategy that work well, and allows you to plan the next round accordingly.

Analytics are the tools of the fight trade for Internet Marketers. The careful review of online activity for any business is the only way to prepare for the next round; and there is always a next round. That is of course unless you are selling the one and only of something and the last “hit” you got turned into that sale. How many of us are that lucky?

Internet analytics need to be used on a regular basis to determine how well a website is performing against predetermined goals. Yeah, predetermined goals – you can’t really analyze how well something is working unless you have an idea of what “well” is supposed to mean. That’s at topic for another day. For now just keep this in mind: running your business online without Internet analytics is like fighting without your cornerman. You might accidentally land that perfect punch and win, but chances are your opponent has a cornerman and is better prepared to lay you out.

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Ever get the impression that no matter how many people come to visit your website, you just can’t seem to increase business from that traffic?

Time and again I will see clients who maintain a laser-like focus on the number of clicks to their website as the only metric of real value in Internet Marketing. “Give me 1,000 more visitors and I’ll sell 500 of them!” is the usual claim, or something like it. Since their marketing experience before the web consisted mainly of word-of-mouth, referral, or walk-in business, they tend to believe that visitors to their website will follow the same conversion route – they see my business, they talk to me, and they want to buy.

The problem is that the audience garnered from Internet Marketing is almost never the same audience a business might garner from these other older and more reliable sources. That’s right, I’m an Internet Consultant  and I said that referral and WOM and walk-in business are more reliable sources of customers!

Let’s be frank here; the Internet, mobile, social media, et al represent a quantum leap forward in how and when you can communicate with prospects, your customers, and your friends and family too. Communication is not the same as conversation. You communicate a message, but you need a conversation to be sure that the message is interpreted correctly. Just recheck some of your personal history of misinterpreted emails or online postings and you’ll recognize the truth of this – without the two-way conversation the one-way communication can often lead to a no-way conversion.

Clicks represent a response to communication. Large increases in clicks represent proof of successful communication, so I am not trying to put a  negative spin on increased traffic per se. It is the focus upon traffic as proof of successful marketing that is the issue. You can pay Google as much money as you want for PPC (pay-per-click) advertising, and with some work you can make sure those ads communicate a message that will attract traffic. Likewise you can get some talented marketers to create effective display ads, and of course create decent content on your website that will also create excellent traffic results. That’s the easy part of the marketing plan (not the easy part of the work, but of the plan – good ads and content take a serious effort in and of themselves, but that’s another story).

Just like you could put your business in the most visible location right off a busy roadway and be fairly well assured that if you are selling anything that people want, you’ll get more traffic than your competitors down the road. As a plan, that’s simple. Having good products or services, good salespeople in place, and reasonable pricing will all factor into the conversion process whereby the increased traffic become customers.

You know that if your showroom is dirty, dark, dingy, or disorganized, those salespeople and prices are going to have to be really great to make the conversion, right? Same goes for your Internet Marketing. Where your traffic goes and what it sees immediately after your successful communication brings it in determines if your business will succeed. The microseconds you have to visually impress your audience are the greatest part of your marketing plan. How you frame your Internet salesroom (your website or landing page) determines how much conversation you will have with your traffic. If you can’t get someone to move past the initial drop-in click, you have traffic but no business.

It all comes down to analytics, and the time and effort devoted to them. No one will build the perfect landing experience for all traffic on the first attempt. Detailed analysis of how your traffic behaves will help you segment your audience to drive them to the convertable locations. Watching how they bounce off pages, how and if they revisit, where they funnel through your website will all provide the information needed to refine your Internet Marketing efforts. Refine them you must, because the likelihood of someone guessing it all right on the first pass is about as great as winning the lottery.

Internet Marketing is an ongoing process, and the sooner you communicate that message to yourself, the sooner you’ll be having conversations with customers.

Find Out About 2011 Internet Marketing Trends

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Anyone who has been in the business of marketing understands that one of the hardest concepts to get across to a client is the idea of limited expectations. The very word “limited” has negative connotations, so trying to frame “limited expectations” in some way that is palatable is often a full-time job in itself.

We all want our clients to be successful, and our clients all want to be successful, so from square one of the client-marketer relationship we have a mutually agreed upon expectation of “success”. The difficulty comes in the form of framed references. One business owner’s idea of success is another’s vision of failure. For instance, would a Fortune 100 company with thousands of customers be satisfied to have 3 new customers a month? Probably not, and yet a small business that caters to exclusive clients might find that prospect very attractive.

Internet Marketing just takes that framed reference idea and spins it out 10-fold. After all, there are millions of potential Internet searchers out there for every business, right? So many clients would have us believe this is true because when you type in something that has something to do with something that your business does or makes or sells, millions of web pages appear like magic! As an Internet Marketing Consultant, my job is about 50% marketing while the other 50% is spent compiling information so that my clients understand it in a framed reference.

Take for example the desire to show up on the first page of Google results. I’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who would not want that for their own business. That is the reference upon which many clients base all of their concepts of success in Internet Marketing – if they are on the first page of Google search results, we have achieved something of real value. Of course if you are selling widgets and you show up on the first page of Google for the search phrase “plenty of widgets for sale”, you have not really accomplished much in the world of widget sales (by the way – did you know that as of this writing there are actually 2 Google search results for that exact phrase?).

It’s an old story, and most clients can learn to understand that their reference of success needs to be framed in the arena of competition, optimization, marketing efforts, time, and many other factors that affect search results. Our jobs as marketing consultants is to help them gain that understanding before our relationship turns adversarial. And believe me it will become an adversarial relationship if we fail to keep our clients focused upon what is practical and achievable within the framework of their budgets, timelines, and efforts. There is nothing more frustrating than having a happy client one day, and an angry client the next simply because they heard from a friend of a business associate’s cousin that if they have enough Meta keywords on a page they will be #1 in Google search results tomorrow!

These are the same business people who often understand that they need to jump through hoops for licensing of their businesses, have to spend months and a lot of money to create their business logos, spend years understanding their field of expertise and more years building a client base, and yet somehow think the rest of their competitive world will roll over and play dead simply because they put the right information on their website.

Yes, there are personalities who feel oppressed because when they go to the DMV they are not allowed to go to the front of the line, and others who believe that their customer complaint is the one that the service department should handle first at all times. Those personalities either need to be molded correctly by a consultant to recognize that the Internet behaves differently than their expectations, or to be told that they really should find some other way to market themselves. Great expectations are good for driving a business owner to new heights, but the fact that they are great does not make them a reality. Time, money, and effort are the tools that are needed for all great things.

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Had a little surprise this past month with one of my client’s analytical statistics. Teambeauti (a skin care and make up professional) has been one of our more successful small business clients for the past 2 years, in terms both of progress made in local marketing on our part, and in the business growth of my client. While I am happy to take a fair amount of credit for Internet Marketing  efforts that have led to an ever-increasing presence for our client, the majority of the success obviously goes to Teambeauti’s owner Joanne Kaminski for an effective business strategy.

But this is a blog covering Digital Marketing, not the skin care and make up industry, so let’s focus upon this area.

Our original consultative relationship began with the design and launch of a new website, and has been followed with a series of small marketing programs testing the waters of PPC advertising, email marketing, and more recently some mobile marketing. Throughout the past year Google Analytics for the site have shown a steady decline in bounce rate as one of the major high points for the website. Consistent increases in traffic, recency, and other high-value performance aspects of the analytics have all been encouraging, but this site kept our interest because it was constantly holding to a 20% or lower bounce rate.

Bounce rate indicates one thing more than any other – the lower the rate on a multiple-page website, the more probable it is that there is something compelling about the landing pages viewed on that site. People come to the site through a variety of entry points, and if the bounce rate is low it means they are staying around long enough to at least view another page or two before leaving. It is what every business owner wants from a website – engagement.

So here’s the thing: these past 2 months since starting a more aggressive email marketing campaign to support the new mobile marketing offers, we saw something that I had never seen for one of my clients: we hit 0.00% bounce rate for new traffic and a 0.33% rate for returning visitors for 4 weeks running. That’s ZERO percent – coupled with an average of 10+ pages visited per visit, what we are seeing is a perfect storm of attractiveness. Simply put; everyone who came to the website during these new campaigns stayed to find out more about my client. No quick in-and-out; there was serious engagement.

Now to look at the site one would have to say it is primitive. That is to say it is built upon a fairly simple, non-open sourced platform using a minimum of extras (modules, calls to action, apps, or other add-ons). It is, however, clear in its message and direct to the point for each and every service or proof of my client’s professional abilities. The website appears and acts as a website is supposed to appear and act – like an Internet version of a business’ face.

The message to us is also very clear; we are on the right track and need to make sure we maintain the same type of progress going forward. Our job just got a little harder since we reached bottom in the bounce rate race. We have achieved nothing, and couldn’t be more proud.

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Contrary to the old saying, putting your money where your mouth is would not be the proper marketing strategy in Internet search. That advice is meant as a challenge for someone to back up what they say, not as a metaphor to explain the process of funneling revenue to promote your marketing niche. More times than not this is said by someone in opposition to what has been said by another; a call for proving that you have the guts to back what is perceived as a bad decision.

I’ve talked about content blueprinting before and what is critical to remember about content marketing (what you say about what you want people to discover through Internet search) is the planning. And planning as a result of a challenge is not effective marketing strategy. You plan for success, not for the next round of fighting.

Internet Marketing is in itself always a challenge. Unless  you are the only game in town selling the service or product that no one else is marketing, you have built-in competition for every search on the Internet. So taking up the call to put money into marketing to your audience is not so much about pouring cash into a bottomless pit trying to build the highest pile, but rather to selectively invest in possible search wins. You need to shut your mouth first and instead research where to put your money. Then, when you see the low-hanging fruit of light competition in your market arena, you can put that mouth and money into the game.

Remember the most important rule of Web Marketing: you don’t need ten thousand people to see your website to sell 10 widgets if you can get 100 qualified buyers to buy the same 10 widgets. If you must compete head-to-head with your strongest competitors for the most competitive search terms because that is the only place where you can make money online, then by all means put that money where your mouth is. But if you are one of the majority of businesses involved in online marketing, you have multiple target audiences for a variety of services or products to sell. As such you need to invest in where and when to open your mouth before you put any of that money where your mouth will be.

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Well, a whole couple of days into the new Google Places thing and the one thing we know for sure is that we don’t know a whole lot. However, a few things are starting to become obvious about local search on Google:

1. Local will begin to dominate search results where “local” has any relevance at all. And that would be most businesses, everywhere.

2. What is posted about businesses from external sources will start to take on more importance in search results than what the business says about itself.

3. Corollary to #2 – User Reviews will begin to play one hell of a large part in search result positioning.

This appears to be a major thrust in the direction Google is taking to modify SERPS; to make the local patrons of local business the major arbiters of Internet opinion of those businesses. Kind of like bringing that old-time religion back to town – the townspeople get to make their voices heard relative to local business services. Not a bad thing at all, just a NEW thing. And as with all new things in Internet Marketing, it means the world of the Internet Consultant just got more complicated.

It will take some time and a lot of analysis before there is marketable assertion about how Google will operate in this newly altered realm of local search, but some things are clear:

  • Local businesses will get a leg up on SERP against national brands
  • Local reviewers will get more notoriety and more power
  • Searchers will spend less time using long tail keywords with local identities, except when searching for locales outside their own (and I am sure Google is operating upon this knowledge already to change how non-local local search results will perform)

My advice to every business owner out there while the dust is settling on Google Places? Start getting some damn good reviews NOW.

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